Unsolicited Advice

As you know, if you’ve been paying any attention, there will be a number of MAJOR events taking place in the lives of your fellow faculty members. Some are moving, some are retiring, some are getting married, some are having kids, and, undoubtedly, some are doing many important things not on that list.

So, I thought I’d post an open thread of sorts so that you people can provide those people with the wisdom of your experience (and/or snappy bits of wisdom that you’ve picked up from others along the way.

I have found that, “Don’t take any wooden nickels” works well in both literal and figurative terms for pretty much anybody about to do pretty much anything.

But if you’d like to offer anything more specific (e.g., “Parent the kid who comes out” for soon to be parents, or “Always date your spouse” for soon to be marrieds, or “Lord loves a working man” for the soon to be retired), this is just the place to do it.

Advice for People Who Are Leaders (or Members) of Departments

I became the chair of my department by accident as much as anything. I had been a full time faculty member for a semester and a half, and all of our senior faculty were retiring at the same time, leaving seven people with less than a year as full time faculty. I’d been around as an adjunct the longest, so I was senior, and, well, none of us could think of a better solution.

Over four years of doing it, I learned a lot, and I’ve learned a lot in the two years since, while watching a great colleague do the job.

I know at least one department is holding chair elections for next fall, and there might be others. Regardless, though, I think everyone–chairs and non-chairs would benefit from reading this list of advice published in the Chronicle of Higher Ed last week. One thing I know for sure is that I had ZERO appreciation for what it meant to be a department chair until I was one. I’m not sure I would have had more of an appreciation if I’d read this list, but I hope I would have. I certainly didn’t do all of it while I was chair, but I think I would have been a better chair if I had.